Category Archives: NZ poems

Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: from Gregory Kan

 

 

 

 

Moving from one world to another

is like dying in a dream

of hands and water.

Nothing is forgiven because

nothing is remembered

but the desires remain the same:

to be in a room with others

satisfied

tired of wonder

holding each other

with the good secret

of no longer having to insist on going

where we think we have to go.

 

 

 

©Gregory Kan

Gregory Kan’s work has featured in literary journals including Atlanta Review, Cordite, Jacket, Landfall, The Listener, SPORT and Best New Zealand Poems, as well as art exhibitions, journals and catalogues. His first book of poetry, This Paper Boat, was shortlisted for the 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. His second book of poetry, Under Glass, is forthcoming with Auckland University Press in 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On reading Short Poems of New Zealand

 

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Short Poems of New Zealand, edited by Jenny Bornholdt, Victoria University Press 2018

 

Jenny Bornholdt has edited an anthology of short poems illustrated by Gregory O’Brien. She began collecting short poems eight years ago and  rediscovered her folder last year. In her introduction she likens short poems to the ‘small house movement’.

 

‘I’ve begun to think of short poems as being the literary equivalent of the small house movement. Small houses contain the same essential spaces as large houses do. Both have places in which to eat, sleep, bathe and sit; they’re the same, except small houses are, well, smaller.’

 

She gave herself a line limit (nine lines) because ten lines seemed to be that much roomier.

She favoured magnetic attractions in her arrangements.

I emailed Jenny and asked what had drawn her to the short poem.

 

‘They tend to offer one strong, memorable image or thought – it’s this concentration of language that appeals, I think. Short poems often work as the commas in a collection, so it’s interesting to pay them close attention and see what happens when you put a selection of such intense ‘pauses’ together.’

 

Why do I like short poems and consider this beautifully produced collection an exquisite object? Because I love poetry that has room to breathe – where white space is the silent beat, the clean sheet, the place to meditate. A short poem is like a complex note. It vibrates. Like a guitar string. Or wine. Or the ocean in the heat.

One of my favourite poems in the collection, ‘Night’ by Albert Wendt, epitomises the way a short poem becomes large. The image is strange and captivating. I never tire of reading this poem. You can hear Albert read it here. You will never tire of listening.

Some poems, like Hone Tuwhare’s ‘Haiku 1’, Bill Manhire’s ‘My World War I Poem’ or Angela Andrews ‘Grandparents‘ have been in a room in my head for ages. These tiny poems are perfect to savour when you have waiting moments. Again you will never tire of listening.

I recommend placing the book beside the bed and reading one poem before you go to sleep as a keepsake for the night – or one poem before you rise as a keepsake for the day.

 

Victoria University Press page

Jenny Bornholdt is the author of many poetry collections, including The Rocky Shore (Montana New Zealand Book Award for Poetry, 2009) and Selected Poems (2016), and many chapbooks. She has co-edited several notable anthologies, including My Heart Goes Swimming: New Zealand Love Poems. Her most recent book is The Longest Breakfast (illustrated by Sarah Wilkins, Gecko Press, 2017). She was the Te Mata Estate New Zealand Poet Laureate from 2005–6.

 

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Poetry Shelf audio spot: Mere Taito’s ‘Homework’

 

 

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Mere Taito is a Rotuman Islander poet and flash fiction writer living in Hamilton with her partner Neil and nephew Lapuke. She is the author of the illustrated chapbook of poetry titled, The Light and Dark in Our Stuff.

 

 

 

a poem from Nicola Easthope’s new collection – Working the Tang

 

 

Working the tang, Birsay

 

These women are wrapped for the weather.

The fleece of long-nosed black sheep

so knitted into their skin, when their men

undress them there is often a little blood.

 

The weather wraps in gales of Arctic ice.

They gather seaweed: tremendous heaps

of tang and ware, dragged up the sloping beach

to the dry. These women burn

 

it steadily, crackling heather and hay in great pits

of stone until the white powder

of potash and soda is all that remains.

The men pound and pound,

 

cover with stones and turf. Leave overnight.

The ash shifts, cools, and lumps of toil

settle on their backs. They sleep with

the weight of a body on the chest.

 

Ghost dust drifts into livestock,

limpets. Fish are driven away.

The women are wrapped in the drapery

of ash, the cloak of salt, the taste of tang.

 

Their kelp-making for the laird’s gain.

Their backs spent for soap and glass.

 

©Nicola Easthope, from Working the Tang  The Cuba Press 2018

 

 

 

Nicola Easthope is a teacher and poet from the Kāpiti Coast. Her first book of poems, leaving my arms free to fly around you, was published by Steele Roberts Aotearoa in 2011. ‘Working the tang, Birsay’ is inspired by her Orcadian roots and the etymologies and experiences of the Norse word for seaweed (among other things). She was a guest poet at the Queensland Poetry Festival in 2012, and last month, the Tasmanian Poetry Festival.

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Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Heidi North’s ‘Piha Beach, Winter’

 

Piha Beach, Winter 

 

My feet punch bruises in the black sand

and I am back in the burn of childhood summers

 

the circle of sentinel gulls

their grey wings tipped to catch the light

 

warn me back

but I go down to the white foam edge

 

bluebottles boated with their pretty poison

yield to the sharp edge of my stick

 

I go down to the place

where the wind kicks holes through my heart

 

and there is a child down there

too close to the ribbony horizon line

 

holding his blue kite

towards the updraft

 

still smiling as it lurches

against the wide white blaze of sky –

 

and I smile and laugh and I run with him because how can I tell him

all the brutal things are yet to come

 

©Heidi North

 

Heidi’s poem was written during her Nancy King Foundation residency in Piha in 2017.

Heidi North’s first poetry book Possibility of Flight was published by Mākaro Press in 2015. Her poetry and short stories have been published in New Zealand, Australia, the US and the UK. She won an international Irish award for her poetry in 2007, and has won New Zealand awards for her short fiction. She joined the Shanghai International Writers Programme in 2016 as the NZ fellow. She was awarded the Hachette/NZSA mentorship for 2017 to work on her first novel. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from The University of Auckland and lives in Auckland with her partner and their two children.

 

 

 

Poetry Shelf audio spot: Saradha Koirala reads ‘Snapshot’

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Saradha Koirala reads ‘Snapshot’  from Photos from the Sky (Cuba Press, 2018)

 

 

Saradha Koirala is a writer and teacher living in Melbourne. Her book Lonesome When You Go won a Storylines Notable Book Award. She has published two previous poetry collections.